Gino’s East, a Chicago-based restaurant chain famous for its deep-dish pizza will soon have a kosher branch in The Living Room, a space under construction in the Bucktown Chabad Jewish Center. The restaurant, known for welcoming guests to write on their walls, will be a welcome addition to the center catering to young Jewish professionals.
More than two years in the making, the new eatery will be a part of a 25,000 square foot building. A synagogue, art space, a coffee shop and lounge are also in the plans. “The goal is to really make this a space where Jews will feel comfortable coming to hang out and partake in their Jewish heritage,” says Rabbi Yosef Moscowitz, Chabad representatives to the area with his wife Sarah.
The downtown Chicago area is a mix of the artsy, upper class and hipster community, and having a space where Jews could meet, have an authentic kosher deep-dish pizza, is a great way to draw local Jews, says Matt Wetstein, a physicist at the University of Chicago and post doctoral scholar at Argonne National Laboratory.
“It is a diverse community, in an area that is not known to have any Jewish institutions. Chabad has built a very large contingent of young adults and professionals because of their relentless approach to reaching Jewish people here,” he observes.
The Living Room, currently located in the future building as the renovations wait for final permits, is abuzz with spiritual and social activities designed to foster a strong identity for the city’s young Jewish professionals. Several thousand young adults participate at many of the social, study and volunteer opportunities hosted there. For those new to the Jewish experience, observes Westin, “Kosher Ginos in an amazing introduction.”
That the renovated, enlarged space will be situated across an upscale hotel still in the plans, has not gone unnoticed. Visitors to Chicago venturing out into the city’s culinary scene may thus make “Kosher Gino’s East a first stop, proving that you could enjoy the finer Chicago food while keeping kosher when traveling,” the rabbi said.